Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the court to maintain the current nationwide preliminary injunction preventing the Trump Administration from implementing new regulations related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If implemented, the new regulations would roll back the ACA’s requirement that employers include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, while litigation around the regulations is ongoing. AG Ford is joined by a coalition of 22 attorneys general in this action.
The friend-of-the-court brief, filed in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, supports the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey in their efforts to fight the Trump Administration’s appeal of the nationwide injunction the states secured in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Jan. 14, 2019, the day the final rules were supposed to go into effect. The nationwide preliminary injunction prevented the federal government from implementing new regulations that authorize employers and universities to deny contraception coverage to employees, students and dependents by citing a religious or moral objection.
“Access to contraception advances educational opportunity, workplace equality and financial empowerment for women,” said AG Ford. “As a firm believer in women’s rights to health care, this brief serves to reaffirm my commitment to Nevada’s women and families.”
Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, most employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees have been required to include coverage for contraception, at no cost to their employees. As a result of the ACA, more than 55 million women in the United States have access to a range of FDA-approved methods of birth control, including the longest-acting and most effective ones, with no out-of-pocket costs. The ACA also included an accommodation process by which employees whose employers had religious objections to contraception could nevertheless obtain seamless alternative coverage for contraception that is not provided under the new regulations’ expanded exemptions.
In their brief, the attorneys general argue that the new regulations threaten the health, wellbeing, and the economic stability of hundreds of thousands of residents, as well as the economies of the states themselves, by depriving the residents of contraception coverage. By rolling back access to contraception, the new regulations will force states to spend millions of dollars to provide their residents with state-funded replacement contraceptive care and services and for healthcare associated with a rise in unintended pregnancies.
The attorneys general further argue that the District Court “acted well within its discretion in awarding” the preliminary national injunction because the regulations threaten to harm thousands of women across the country. The brief notes that even the federal government admits that far more women and their families will be harmed than what the federal government had previously estimated in October 2017.
According to the brief, contraceptive equity laws that exist in some states may mitigate the harm caused by the new regulations in those states but will not eliminate it, because of the large percentage of women who work for employers that have self-funded plans that, by federal law, are exempt from state regulation.
In January, AG Ford and the coalition of states filed two separate amicus briefs in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Northern District of California asking the courts to halt the roll back of the contraceptive coverage mandate and to issue a preliminary nationwide injunction of the final regulations. The following week, the Pennsylvania District Court issued the nationwide preliminary injunction at issue in this appeal, and the California federal district court issued a preliminary injunction covering the states that are plaintiffs in that action.
In addition to Nevada, the attorneys general of the following states and territory participated in today’s brief, including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.